Less than an hour after a federal judge struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex nuptials, making the Hoosier State the 20th in the nation where gay and lesbian couples can wed, a federal appeals court invalidated a different state ban -- in Utah -- for the first time in the last year's historic wave of victories. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver voted 2-1 to overturn Utah's ban on same-sex nuptials, upholding a lower court's decision. The ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has found such a ban to be unconstitutional since 2012, when the 9th Circuit ruled against the now-defunct Proposition 8, California's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
It's been two whole weeks since a court struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage, but today, marriage equality made up for lost time with victories in two states in one afternoon.
Note, the court left Utah's existing law in place while the appeals process continues, so same-sex couples are not yet eligible to get legally married in the Beehive State.
That said, we have two federal appeals courts ruling in favor of marriage equality, and with today's district court ruling in Indiana, the number of states that extend equal marriage rights to all adults is up to 20.
We're not quite at half the country yet, but it's clear the anti-gay measures are falling like dominoes.
Indeed, if it seems like there have been a lot of these rulings lately, all reaching the same conclusion, it's not your imagination.
Today's rulings follow a big win in Wisconsin two weeks ago, which came two weeks after a separate federal court struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality – a court ruling that will not be appealed.
The ruling in the Keystone State came just one day after a similar ruling in Oregon.
Which came just a week after a federal court struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Which came just a week after a court ruled against Arkansas’ anti-gay constitutional amendment.
This came a month after a federal judge ordered Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The month before that, a federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on marriage equality.
Civil-rights proponents have scored related victories in Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas, just over the last half-year or so.
For the right, that’s quite a losing streak. Indeed, as we discussed recently, how many cases have anti-gay forces won on the merits since the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling? Zero.
Following up on our conversations after one of the recent rulings, what’s especially heartening for proponents of civil rights and equality is how routine success is becoming. It wasn’t long ago that these cases were nerve wracking -- a gut-wrenching test of whether basic human decency would prevail -- with countless families afraid to hope for fear of bitter disappointment.
Now, every case seems to end with the same celebratory result: watching the arc of history bend closer to justice.